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August 29, 2011

The Official Opening of the new Jeffrey Town Health Centre, St. Mary
 Kingston, Jamaica – 16 April 2010: Many dreams were realized today with the opening of the long-awaited Jeffrey Town Health Centre in St. Mary, including that of Registered Midwife Enid Gordon. Ms. Gordon was honoured today at the opening ceremony for her invaluable contribution to the facility, where she worked 25 of her 31 years of her life. “It feels good to be honoured because I really had to work through some hard times with the physical inconveniences of the clinic, but I pressed on, always hoping that it would get better,” she gratefully expressed.
The hurricane-ravaged Jeffrey Town Health Clinic was reconstructed through a partnership between the Digicel Foundation and CHASE Fund to the tune of J$10.9 million. The new Type I Health Centre was opened on Friday, April 16, 2010. When asked what stands out to her of her experience at the Jeffrey Town Health Clinic, she said; “Sometimes the turn out from the communities was a lot and I would end up offering an entire day of service, well into the evening. I remember having to travel to Gayle (four miles away) to get medication so that the children could get their immunization shots. But whatever the hardships, I was determined to offer of my best to all who came out to the clinic.”
For over 30 years, the Jeffrey Town Community, located in the hills of St. Mary, has had a functioning maternity clinic servicing approximately 4,000 persons, including the neighbouring communities of Coffee Walk, Top Road, Barker, Rose Street, Halifax and Retirement. However, the facility was replaced with a ‘Gilbert House’, after it was ravaged and destroyed by hurricane Gilbert. Later when hurricane Ivan destroyed it, this prompted the Health Department to consider closing the Clinic and moving the services to Gayle, and the community members therefore had to find ways and means to ensure the facility remained opened.
The Jeffrey Town Farmers’ Association did what they could to improve the facility by adding an ad hoc external bathroom and a shed, which operated as a waiting area. Adamant and determined to keep the Health Clinic in the area, they later applied for a grant from the Digicel Foundation. “It is a very atypical thing we have here at the Jeffrey Town Health Clinic; persons travel from very far to come and get their treatment here – bypassing larger clinics with doctors – to come and see nurse Walker (then nurse Gordon)”, commented Mr. Roy Archer, who served as the Project Manager.
Digicel Foundation Administrator, Eleen Rankin expressed that, “We did a few site visits with the community members prior to approving the project, but it did not take long for us to realize the major role that the Health Clinic has been playing in the community. We are also very happy that the CHASE Fund was able to partner with us to make this a reality for the community”.
Enthusiastic about the new possibility of a donated Health Centre, governmental partners also offered their support. The Government of Jamaica donated the land for this re-construction as well as for the future construction of a school. The St. Mary Parish Council, recognizing and acknowledging the invaluable contribution being made to the Parish, waived all building fees. The North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) also added their support to the project by contributing the furnishings and equipment for the Health Centre.
The new Health Centre now boasts a waiting area, an administration office, a record-keeping area, two examination rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a storeroom and a wash area. The facility will provide services such as antenatal, curative, post-natal, child, and adult nutrition services; chronic disease management and control; family planning; child health; HIV/AIDS management; cancer screening; early detection and referral of health problems and immunization.
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